Creatives' A/B Testing and User Acquisition for Mobile Games: Best Ad Formats 2023

Viola Zannarini
October 5, 2023
Creatives' A/B Testing and User Acquisition for Mobile Games: Best Ad Formats 2023

When developing a successful user acquisition strategy, choosing the right creatives plays a key role.

This means that the creatives, which are the visual and interactive components of an advertising campaign, are essential in capturing the attention of the target audience and encouraging them to install the app.

Mobile games user acquisition campaigns can work with many creatives and different ad formats but not all of them are effective in achieving results, as each has benefits and drawbacks. For example, videos are more engaging than banners, which instead are less expensive and can be easily displayed anywhere.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the ad and not waste resources, A/B tests are run.

There are many formats of creatives for mobile games user acquisition

To achieve optimal results, it’s important to diversify the formats of mobile games’ creatives.

Game marketers have discovered that showing the users what they have to expect from the mobile game directly in the ad, leads to great results.

This is why video ads tend to generate a higher ROI. The ad gives users a sense of what gameplay is like and takes them through a narrative arc filled with emotions and fun, in order to intrigue them and make them install the mobile game. 

Downloads are encouraged when an ad shows the game’s mechanics, making the users get a real sense of what it would be like playing the mobile game. After the video, an end card is also shown, which can be static or dynamic, to further stimulate downloads of the game.

An even more immersive gaming experience for the users is created by playables. They are short and concise experiences that show users what the mobile game is about and make them try firsthand some aspects of the gameplay. The first few seconds of the playable are hyper-critical to grasp users’ attention. Making the player feel like they solved a puzzle is a great way to get them interested in the game. When players manage to fulfill a task or achieve a reward, it fills them with a sense of accomplishment that makes a big difference in engagement

But even if playables are one of the top-performing formats for gamers, not a lot of campaign budget goes to them, as they are more expensive to build and harder to get right. When buying ad placements, both video and playable ads are more expensive compared to banners, complicating the choice of the best creative to use.

Banners are also used in mobile games user acquisition campaigns. The prices are lower than those of other creatives and the supply of banner slots is very abundant.

The weakness of the banner relies on its static nature. Due to its non engaging format, the phenomenon called “banner blindness”, which is the users’ inclination to ignore banners, is a natural consequence. 

This leads to users that don't interact a lot and clicks that happen only when the user is very interested.

A/B testing and why it is important in user acquisition for mobile games

Now game marketers need to understand which ad formats yield the highest number of conversions for mobile games. There is not an objectively better creative, as every app install is good as long as it generates a good ROI, so the final answer for marketers is to run at the same time every possible ad and test which ones are generating a good ROI. 

No ad is better than the others, but different ads generate different new users and it’s essential to understand how gamers engage with specific creatives to optimize for the greatest result.

This process, called A/B testing, entails running two different ads and showing them simultaneously to two audience segments, control group and test group, in order to identify which one is more effective in terms of installs, in-app events and other observable metrics .

Assessing the performance of different creatives can optimize the mobile game user acquisition campaigns, since it allows marketers to not waste money and allocate resources to the best performing ad.

Each mobile game category has its preferred creative

As the mobile game market expands and becomes more complex, each game will have to find its most suitable ad format to stand out among its competitors. We can spot a recurring pattern in the categorization of games and their subsequent creative choice.

  • Idle and hypercasual games are usually easy-to-use and minimalistic, with a negligible plot, as they are meant to be played while multitasking. An ad made of a playable and an end card is the most popular format for this kind of mobile games, as they show the user what the game is about and immediately capture their attention with the fun mechanics of the mobile game.

  • Differently, an interactive story kind of mobile game, that entraptures the gamer with its thrilling and emotional plot, needs an ad that shows the user its storyline. This means that a creative that shows in a video format the gameplay of the first chapters of the story will intrigue the gamer, who will install the app to discover how to plot moves forward.

  • A great combination of the two categories are merge or match-3 games, which have increased in popularity in the most recent years. 

These mobile games have the casual and simple gameplay of the hypercasual games, but each puzzle solved moves the underlying plot forward, so that the gamer can create emotional bonds with the characters and increase the time spent on the app. 

In order to show the viewers all these different characteristics, a dynamic ad format is the best choice. While the video can arouse their curiosity plot-wise, the subsequent playable makes them try the puzzle component of the mobile game and  engages the target audience in a fun and captivating manner.

  • As said before, banners are the less costly and most widespread used ad formats. Due to their static and often small nature, as they take up only a limited area of the display, the content on the banner should be minimal, engaging and easily recognizable. 

This is why mobile games that are for many reasons already famous, maybe because they are a mobile adaptation of a popular game or because they acquire their storyline from another piece of media, can best adopt this type of ad. The users are already familiar with the content, they only need to be reminded of it.

Choose the right creative for your mobile game user acquisition strategy

In conclusion, crafting a successful user acquisition strategy in mobile game advertising requires the thoughtful selection of creatives. In the diverse landscape of ad formats, A/B testing emerges as a crucial tool to discern the most effective creatives and avoid wasting efforts. From engaging videos to interactive playables and cost-effective banners, each has its place, and understanding user engagement to different types of creatives remains vital for success.